There’s no doubt that Twitter is one of the most popular social networking platforms available, and there’s a lot of advice out there on how to use Twitter for your business.  But just because there are a lot of people on Twitter, doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to use it.

The most important thing when it comes to using Twitter for your business is the question of audience.  You can use Twitter’s advertising option to promote your tweets, or to broadcast ads, but when it comes to effectively communicating with your audience, the most important thing to know is how they use Twitter themselves.

In a recent study commissioned by Twitter, and conducted by the Nielsen group, they identified the following characteristics of south African Twitter usage:

Age And Gender

Just over half of South African Twitter users are women, while 44% are men.  53% of South Africans on Twitter are between 25 and 44 years old, while 29% are between 16 and 24.  The remaining 18% are over 55 years of age, which goes to show that Twitter isn’t just for the youth.

Devices On Twitter

The most popular devices for Twitter in SA are our phones.  87% of people use their phone to go online, and 60% of those users prefer to use their mobile device to access Twitter.

Laptops are the next most popular device, with 68% of SA Twitter users making use of their laptop, while 32% use a tablet.

Timing Your Tweets

Given how much Twitter access happens via mobile device, it’s to be expected that we’re using it on the go. We use Twitter while travelling, at school and university, during our shopping, and at live events.  Although mobile means people can access it any time, our most active times for Tweeting are weekday evenings, from 6pm to 9pm, and late at night on weekends, between midnight and 7am.

More People Than You Realise

While 52% of the surveyed South African Twitter users said they read Tweets daily, only 40% reported actually Tweeting themselves.  The biggest reason for using Twitter according to respondents was to keep up with breaking news, with 64% of South Africans citing that as their primary reason for being on the platform.

39% use Twitter for sporting news and results, and a significant 55% of users engaged only with people they already know.  Don’t lose heart if you’re trying to build an audience though, because 53% of users reported connecting with people they don’t know as well.

Top Content

According to 69% of South African Twitter users, music content is their top interest, closely followed by film (67%), food (66%), TV (64%) and travel (60%).

News, sports and politics are also high on the list for engaging content and 63% of people will tweet (or re-tweet) things that made them laugh.